Three Tips for Running Programs as Administrator in Windows 7

Beginning with Vista and continuing in Windows 7, new security measures were introduced that required additional steps for running certain types of programs or operations. For example, elevated administrator credentials are required for anything that affects system settings. This higher security setting is commonly referred to as “running as administrator” or “with elevated privileges”.

I have noticed that PC users are often confused about when they are actually able to run a program as administrator. Because there is a type of user account known as an "administrator" account, it is understandable that a PC user might think that using this type of account was the same as running as administrator. But in the Microsoft way of doing things, this reasonable assumption does not hold. It's confusing but there it is.

Being in an administrator account does enable certain functions not allowed in a standard account but Microsoft’s User Account Control (UAC) still requires extra steps for many operations and programs. So I have put together a description of several ways to run a program as administrator.

I will assume that you are using an administrator account in the discussion. Using a limited or standard account would be somewhat similar but in that type of account you would have to keep entering an administrator password.

I have previously described how to run the command line as administrator but the procedure is the same for any program or executable (EXE)  file. Here are three ways to run a program as administrator.

Run as administrator from the right-click context menu

  1. Right-click the program shortcut or executable file
  2. Select “Run as administrator” from the context menu
  3. Agree to the UAC challenge

Run as administrator with a keyboard shortcut

  1. Select the shortcut or executable with a single click
  2. Use the keyboard combination Ctrl+Shift+Enter (Hold down all three keys)
  3. Agree to the UAC challenge

Create a shortcut for a program to run as administrator

If you need to run a program as administrator frequently, you can save some time by creating a permanent shortcut for the program that will skip some steps. Another approach is to elevate the privileges of an executable file itself.

  1. Use an existing shortcut or create one for the program in question in a convenient place 
  2. Right-click the shortcut
  3. Select “Properties” from the context menu
  4. Click the “Compatibility” tab
  5. Put a check by the entry “Run this program as an administrator”
  6. Click “OK”

You will still get the UAC warning when you use this shortcut but it reduces the total number of steps involved in running a program as administrator. 

If you prefer, this same procedure can be applied directly to an executable program file instead of its shortcut. I like to make a separate shortcut because it gives me the option of running a program with or without elevated privileges.

And there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion about how to run a program as administrator

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's and tutorials, including  a computer education website and a site for learning about the command line.

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Comments

by Darryl Gittins (not verified) on 27. March 2012 - 18:12  (91278)

You can also create a shortcut that uses the runas command:
runas /savecred /user:Darryl "C:\Program Files\programname\programname.exe"

by Stephen Woodruff (not verified) on 26. March 2012 - 9:01  (91174)

I think the UAC warnings are self-defeating because I've watched countless people click to give permission without reading what's in the box, and have more than once heard someone mutter "yeah yeah yeah" as they clicked.
Too many security warnings, such as saying 'this file may damage your computer' when you are copying it TO a usb device all suggest The Boy Who Cried Wolf was not on the reading list of the Microsoft security folk.

by Phil Bird (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 0:36  (91092)

Yep..disabling the UAC (or the PIA as it's known in these parts) is the answer to a lot of Win 7/Vista frustrations.
Clearly Vista and Win 7 were not run past a bevy of users prior to issuing to the masses, as was done up to XP.
They are distinctly "user unfriendly".
Microsoft's inconsistency in what denotes "administrator" qualification for the system is not good enough either !

I resent being de-skilled by systems providers, after 20 years of using a pc !

by West Swan on 26. March 2012 - 7:48  (91172)

Hi Phil,

Appreciate your comment re being de-skilled but Microsoft have to cater to the lowest common denominator i.e. the multitude of people who have no idea regarding security whatsoever.

I personally love the UAC prompt as it gives me an opportunity to stop and think what I am doing.

I also follow all the safe practices recommended by Gizmo as well as using MSE and a once a week scan with Super AntiSpyware

But this is a bit off topic sorry :-)

Cheers,

Paul

by swim (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 22:41  (91089)

OR you could just forget the whole thing and disable UAC. Been doing that ever since I started using Win 7 with no ill effects and a lot more sanity than I would've had.

by rowal5555 on 26. March 2012 - 5:21  (91163)

I had an infected flash drive which would have made a right mess of my desktop, but UAC stopped it dead and enabled me to track down and kill the culprit.
For me, the small annoyance of an extra click is completely worthwhile.
Your machine. your choice but I would never recommend disabling UAC.

by MidnightCowboy on 26. March 2012 - 7:34  (91171)

You make a very good point. So many users complain about the security vulnerabilities of Windows, yet the first thing they search for is how to disable UAC.

by Jonas (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 21:19  (91084)

Ctrl+Shift (+ click) is enough/the same. Using it often to launch the command prompt with elevated privileges.

UAC can be tweaked quite a lot via registry and GPO's. There's a bunch of articles online. This one is pretty good: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/two-ways-to-fine-tune-windows-7-uac/

The settings shown in the Gpeditor all changes some values in registry..

-Jonas

by SkipT (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 18:40  (91081)

Thanks for the link and the quick response. I had actually tried the Compatibility Administrator some time back and couldn't get it to work, but the Task Scheduler method is awesome - that works perfectly! This solves the problem of having to manually launch a couple of older programs every time I boot. Now those programs are back in the Startup group like they were back in the XP days.

Thanks again!

Skip

by Richard Ritty (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 17:19  (91071)

Thanks Vic,
For the owner and single administrator/ user of a PC running an OS and programmes for which large sums have been paid to Microsoft, the ultimate frustration is to be told you don’t have rights to perform some relatively elementary task.
If I was 50 years younger and retained the energy I’d learn Unix!
Richard R

by Russ Adams (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 12:53  (91059)

My biggest issue with Vista and now Win7 is deleting files.

I have several external hard drives with 10's of thousands of photo files and video files.

Win7 always prevents me from moving directories around and deleting files.

It's EXTREMELY annoying.

Trying to use the program Eraser to clean these files up and remove all traces fails. I've attempted running it as an administrator and it still fails to delete all the old files.

I'd love a way around this problem. Best way I've found so far is to use an old XP machine.

Any hints?

Thanks!

Russ

by rover35si (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 4:25  (91103)

It might be the newish thing(not in xp)where they restrict the number of files u can do things to at once.To disable this u need to enter a reg command.
Go to:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Make a new DWORD value called MultipleInvokePromptMinimum

then set it to decimal 22 (or hex 16)
If u don't want to do this,email me and i will send u a reg file to double click(u can check it's ok in notepad),save u doing it urself

It also makes it possible to open many files at once(prob the reason they did it)so for gods sake don't accidently click open instead of delete/move or u'll be there all day waiting for millions of pics to open.I needed it so I could open loads of windowblinds skins at once as it only lets u open about 10 at once.

Hope this works I know bit old now.

by Russ Adams (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 20:37  (91147)

Geez-O. Really? In their infinite wisdom Microsoft have restricted how many files I can work on at once. Sigh. Does that mean I can no longer back up more than x files? Geez.

Thanks for the cool tip, I'll check this one out too!

Russ

by v.laurie on 25. March 2012 - 20:45  (91148)

You can back up as many files as you have room for. What you cannot do is work on more than 15 files at the same time. See this link:
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-files/opening...

by v.laurie on 24. March 2012 - 17:39  (91074)

This type of question is best posted in the forum where a bevy of experts are waiting to help out. But here is a quick answer. The only time I have trouble moving or deleting files is when they are being used by some application.

by Russ Adams (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 18:33  (91079)

Thanks for trying V.

Your experiences do not match mine. No other applications are using the files when I'm attempting to delete them. Searches online return zillions of replies along the same line as what is given here: use an administrator access.

The files delete easily under XP. Irritatingly difficult under Win7. Try to delete a 100 videos in one directory and only 1/4 of them will delete under Win7. Do the same thing under XP and they all go.

by mmseng on 24. March 2012 - 20:43  (91083)

Not to second guess you, because I know there are circumstances in which you are correct, but what confirmation do you have that some of those files aren't actually in use?

"In use" doesn't necessarily just mean that the files are open for editing or being viewed. Especially with images and videos, it's often the case that Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player/Center will keep a file handle to various images open and locked even if you're not actively viewing anything, and sometimes even if there are no Explorer/Player windows open.

A good way to make double sure of this is to use Process Explorer (Sysinternal's/Technet's Task Manager replacement). If you haven't tried this already I'd recommend grabbing it, running it, and going to "Find -> Find Handle or DLL..." and searching for some of the offending files that way. Often you get surprised by what is actually keeping an open handle to your files.

by Russ Adams (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 9:41  (91110)

Mmseng:

" Process Explorer ... "Find -> Find Handle or DLL..." and searching for some of the offending files that way. "

Thanks for the hint! I will check it out. I usually use Process Hacker as I like the interface a little better. But I do have Process Explorer installed and use it occasionally too.

"Often you get surprised by what is actually keeping an open handle to your files."

Since I've never opened them with the new Win7 box, and I set the pop-up box to "do nothing" when I attach an external drive I don't see what would be using the file. That does not mean that Win7 isn't doing something behind the scenes I'm not aware of.

by SkipT (not verified) on 24. March 2012 - 12:35  (91058)

Thanks for the writeup. I wasn't aware of the Ctrl+Shift+Enter shortcut.

Do you know if there is any way to eliminate the UAC warning entirely short of completely disabling UAC? Or is there any way to change UAC settings on a per program basis?

Thanks again.

skip

by maxthegold (not verified) on 25. March 2012 - 3:11  (91097)

You can try this method, this should do the trick for you.

http://creating-windows7-shortcut.articles.r-tt.com/

by v.laurie on 24. March 2012 - 17:58  (91077)

I don't know how to disable global warnings without disabling UAC.

For a specific program, you could write some sort of script to answer the UAC challenge automatically. Or here is another method - I haven't tried it but you can take a look at it
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/window-on-windows/selectively-disable-u...

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